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Latah County Oral History Collection

Remembering Latah County and Idaho Life at the turn of the 20th century

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Date: October 27, 1977 Interviewer: Rachel Foxman

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0:00No transcript available.

0:00 - Introduction

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1:00 - Early education

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Segment Synopsis: Grew up in a small town; had a class of nine which they all graduated in 1909; three girls and six boys, three of the boys went to college; he was valedictorian; all had the same studies, taking Latin, French, etc.

2:00 - Education

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Segment Synopsis: Had good schoolteachers, most went to Baldwin College.

3:00 - Attended Brown and Harvard before World War I

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Segment Synopsis: He went to Brown University from 1909-1913, then went to Harvard till 1919. Everyone was coming back from the war.

4:00 - Theater with the English Club

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Segment Synopsis: He did plays for the English club; outdoor plays; they bought a rich man’s house that looked like a medieval castle and they converted it into a theatre.

5:00 - Performed in many plays while in school, one a week

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Segment Synopsis: Lead in Barry play called Prunella was Margaret Clock, who became famous on stage in Broadway; he was the Honorable Earnest for the play. Taught many Victorian playwrights. Very popular for productions at his school. Did about one a week.

7:00 - Very involved with productions in college

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Segment Synopsis: Never studied in the Harvard Workshop 47. Very involved in plays. Gave University a copy of their production.

8:00 - Why he moved to Idaho

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Segment Synopsis: Why he came to Idaho. Was planning on going to New York to study plays; had taught for five years, though more about studying acting and not production. Someone from his department was at a lake for summer vacation, and he met him up there and was hired. Came by train from Syracuse in the Chicago area, got into Spokane in the evening.

9:00 - Leaving Syracuse, finding a place to live

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Segment Synopsis: Left Syracuse when they were having their State Fair. Took his old boardinghouse keeper to see a play to celebrate his moving away. Took him about a month to find a room to live in for the year.

11:00 - Moscow social scene

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Segment Synopsis: Ate at cheap restaurants and hotels on Main Street with boys from local college. Got acquainted with Ms. Matthew, she graduated from Washington and taught at Aberdeen, taught French, and came to Moscow; part of the social scene here.

12:00 - Moved to Moscow in 1919; involved with plays until 1930; Mr. Kenworthy

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Segment Synopsis: Came to Moscow in 1919 and did plays there until 1930. Mr. Kenworthy came the second year he was there and put on movies.

13:00 - His first play in Moscow; teaching English courses

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Segment Synopsis: First play he did was series of one-actor plays. Taught English courses as well as organizing all the drama.

15:00 - Theater during World War I back east

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Segment Synopsis: Back East during the First World War, had one play to do and only had one man. Chose a play called Cramford, like an Austen play. For the war there was few undergraduates on campus. Tried to get plays that weren’t too long.

18:00 - Lived in Maine; visited Coeur d'Alene

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Segment Synopsis: Lived in Maine, went through Boston. Saw a play, called the Amazons. Went up to Coeur d’Alene as well.

20:00 - Produced plays in Spokane; had modern lighting

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Segment Synopsis: Plays were well received. Produced many plays such as Shakespeare, did plays in Spokane. Had modern lighting.

22:00 - Performances and teaching at the University of Idaho

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Segment Synopsis: Did some performing in the U-hut(?). Had an office over there and held some classes there. First year he was in non-Dramatic Literature course, he just saw one of the girls last week who was in that class. Amused he had hired to produce the non-Shakespearean plays. Always used the Auditorium for plays; fight with music Director to use the U-hut.

26:00 - No drama department when he moved to Moscow, developed out of the Curtain Club

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Segment Synopsis: When he first came here there wasn’t a department of Drama, he developed it out of the “curtain club”. Designed all the sets with help of college carpenter. Experimenting with designs, wallpapers, etc.

28:00 - How he became stage manager

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Segment Synopsis: He became stage manager after the actor who played Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet died halfway through the play.

30:00 - Active in English and Drama departments at the University of Idaho until he was 70

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Segment Synopsis: Took six weeks for one-act plays at the University. Was teaching Drama classes at that time as well. Still active in the Drama and English Department after no longer being Head; did not stop until he was seventy.

32:00 - Used to perform more Shakespeare plays; relationships with Bob Dale and Mr. Jennings

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Segment Synopsis: Less Shakespeare now than in the past. Bob Dale pushed for more modern plays; he disapproved of him. He had Mr. Jennings help translate Shakespeare’s plays years ago; Mr. Jennings was a great writer too.

33:00 - Pageant Light on the Mountain. Competed for the first time in Walla Walla

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Segment Synopsis: Pageant Light on the Mountain. Competed for the first time in Walla Walla.

34:00 - Worked with electricians on the pageant, large committee

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Segment Synopsis: Electrical Engineer and Electrician worked with them on the pageant. Dr. Miller came up with the idea of the pageant. Jennings worked with him on the play. Had a large committee for the production of the pageant.

36:00 - Working at Harvard, foreign language experience

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Segment Synopsis: Summer he worked at Harvard set him to getting doorknobs and other miscellaneous things. Thought he took enough French and Latin he could teach it.

38:00 - Invited football players to act as Native Americans, borrowed costumes from Nez Perce

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Segment Synopsis: Didn’t know anything about the history at the University of Idaho and depended on Jennings for help. Used a group of football men as Native Americans, and invited Nez Perce tribes who brought costumes to put football players in.

41:00 - Book Beacon from Mountain Plain made into play

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Segment Synopsis: Book Beacon from Mountain Plain made into play.

44:00 - Discussion of deans, if the pageant could be performed today

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Segment Synopsis: Could they do the pageant nowadays? George Moory Miller was the Dean, well respected, looked like a farmer. Fight with Hewn Pipes, another Dean, went to Stanford.

47:00 - Produced many Shakespearean plays

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Segment Synopsis: Did many of the Shakespeare plays, went regularly to the Easter schools to see plays.

50:00 - Professor Baker taught first classes in Drama department; women's dress in the library

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Segment Synopsis: Professor Baker teaching first theory and criticism classes for drama. Very knowledgeable in drama in the west. Women who worked in the library had to wear long sleeves. Drama in the Western colleges.

59:00 - He taught until 1961; lot of changes in drama and department; hard to quit smoking; theater not as popular with rural areas

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Segment Synopsis: Taught till 1961, saw a lot of changes in drama and attitudes of the people. Saw a lot of plays changing; still taught Bernard Shaw. Hardest thing he had to do was stop smoking. Drama not very popular in the rural towns.

62:00 - Depression while living in Syracuse; salary at Syracuse verses Moscow

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Segment Synopsis: Depression effected Syracuse. He was paid $900 when he started, when he left was paid $1600. Came to Moscow, was given $1800.

66:00 - Plays about the Bible, jazz music

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Segment Synopsis: Didn’t like some of the plays about the Bible, didn’t like the “jazzy” music.

68:00 - Julius Caesar Club

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Segment Synopsis: Julius Caesar Club, some of the best actors he used, very young.

72:00 - Arsenic and Lace. Mrs. Schult, piano teacher at the University.

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Segment Synopsis: Arsenic and Lace. Mrs. Schult, piano teacher at the University.

74:00 - Family living back east

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Segment Synopsis: Hasn’t been back East in years, father and cousin who lived over there are dead. Son lives in Minneapolis, they see wonderful shows. Oldest daughter is 13.

77:00 - Lack of playwriting courses on campus when he taught

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Segment Synopsis: Ms. Collette was an English undergraduate, had many classes with her in it. Lots of playwriting being done on campus now. Had no classes on playwriting when he taught, had Creative Writing though.

82:00 - Varsity Players Club

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Segment Synopsis: He funded the Varsity Players club name on campus.

85:00 - Was not interested in what students ended up doing as a career

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Segment Synopsis: Had no particular desire to see what his students were to do as a career (act, direct, etc).

89:00 - Moscow plays only in schools; visit to Seattle theater

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Segment Synopsis: Moscow area has no plays outside of the school. He went to Seattle and visited the Repertory Theater.

91:00 - Moscow as nice small town; disagrees with much of modern theater

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Segment Synopsis: Modern theater, finds generally disagreeable. Moscow is a very nice small town, kind to the old people. Can’t do dramatic readings because stroke drags on his voice.

93:00 - Students trained as teachers; male verses female teachers

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Segment Synopsis: Many students who come to the University of Idaho stay as teachers. Want to send them away for a dozen years before they bring them back. Do students relate to male teachers better than female teachers? Cushman thinks not and gives example of female teachers in the sciences and engineering that are successful teachers. Women weren’t paid the same as male teachers until recently.

98:00 - Sleeping quarters for men and women; Dean French a strong female dean

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Segment Synopsis: Men and women strict rules on separate sleeping quarters. Didn’t think they had any problems with this though; had homes meant for couples and children. Dean French was one of strongest woman deans; was a lady in all-sense of the word. Some students have become deans at Washington.

100:00 - University presidents from specific departments

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Segment Synopsis: School started a year before he did. Present when Linda and Opum (?) were present. Not much difference in presidents who were in English versus Agriculture.

106:00 - Professor Hilm story; lived with the Adair family

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Segment Synopsis: Professor Hilm was a professor in European History; bought a house which he willed and niece and nephew before it became a museum. Lived with the Adair family as well, “ran” around with Bernadine (one of the daughters) who was one of the daughters, who helped with his plays.

109:00 - Salary estimate for drama teacher; working with Associated Students of University of Idaho (ASUI) for money for plays

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Segment Synopsis: Estimate of how much a drama teacher made a year. Worked with the ASUI to get two to three hundred dollars a play. He had a long association with them.

111:00 - Mr. Buchannan became president.

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